Saturday, October 25, 2008

Electoral Perspective

Looking back at the past eight years, at the GOP that Rove built, it can get pretty easy to get rather cynical and pessimistic about the American electorate. There is certainly good reason for it, as TBB illustrates rather well in a recent post.

But as I pointed out in my response to that post, perhaps things aren't quite as bad as they seem. There is a cool site that shows the electoral college map for elections back to 1860 (Lincoln). What struck me first and foremost about that was just how lopsided most of those past elections were, particularly the modern ones. It wasn't at all uncommon to see electoral vote totals well over 350 for the winner, and it got over 400 and even over 500. Comparing that to George W Bush, who won with 271 and then with 286 - well, those were razor thin margins - where either 400 votes or about 150,000 votes could have changed the whole thing. That to me looks like maybe the voters, in general, aren't as stupid as some might think. Especially when you look at what happened in the past eight years (9/11) that might push a larger portion of the population to unreasoning fear than usual.

I think Rove has pushed the pure PR bullshit election strategy so hard and so far over the past eight years that it probalby just doesn't work any more. The GOP base has shrunk. The Dem base has grown. Independents are totally turned off by the GOP and by Rovian tactics. And yet despite this, all the GOP can do is keep on trying to do the same failed thing over and over. They don't know how to do anything else. They sure as hell can't run on the issues - voters vastly prefer Dem takes on most of the issues out there.

It is enough to give me hope for the future.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Right Wing Authoritarians (I.e. the GOP) as Self-Parody

I know this is rather late and rather obvious, but the GOP has gotten so bad now that it has passed beyond parody into the land where GOP press releases and straight stories about the GOP are literally indistinguishable from Onion headlines and stories.

My favorite one was Palin Preempts report, clears self, in probe. I laughed my ass off when I saw it. What is truly astounding, though, is to see the predictable gaggle of Palin supporters who eat that stuff up. Then again, given the relative level of discourse from these people, I am really not surprised.

But that only explains the 25% dead-ender RWAs. What explains the rest of the voters who take McCain up into the 40s in support? I'm sure some of it is inertia. For instance, with how disgusted I am with the utter disgrace that is the Republican Party right now, I would now have a very very difficult time ever pulling the lever (metaphorically speaking since we now use optical scan sheets in my district) for an "R" politico, even if things drastically change in the next 30 years. Though I would hope that this would be overcome by the facts on the ground at the time. It is very hard to vote for the party of Rove and Bush and DeLay after seeing just what they stand for and how they go about "governing." On the other hand, there have been many many anecdotal stories of people who have voted GOP their entire lives who are now going to vote Obama after what has happened the past eight years. So this may not be as big a factor this year as in other years. Then there are those who vote pure economics - though I must think that those who have half a brain realize that trashing the economy loses them far more money than they'd lose if they didn't get a top-bracket tax break. Or did they clean up anyway with this 700 Billion dollar bailout? In either case, this is tiny percentage of the population, and not everyone in that population votes GOP.

I know there are voters who only vote against, not for, a candidate. But I'd have thought that the vast majority of those were already in the 25% who think Obama is a muslim terrorist anyway.

Truly, it is an interesting question. The last factor is the fact that Democrats seem to be very poor at campaigning and ruthlessly exploiting power.

Oh, and I suppose there are those small slivers of Hillary supporters who seem to have gone off the deep end (like Violet Socks and perhaps Octogalore) in hatred of Obama. VS seems to like to pretend that she'd never vote GOP, but her site has become of late a big advertisement for Palin and I would not be terribly surprised to find that she pulled the lever for Palin despite claims to the contrary. Certainly she is totally blind to just how horrible a candidate Palin really is. But I wonder if there is really a significant population of people in that camp. I somehow suspect not.

Right now, I just want it to be over. I want it to be November 4th so I can watch the returns and finally see the GOP knocked out on their asses. I want Obama to win with 401 electoral votes, something within the range of possibilities. I don't want the GOP defeated. I want them destroyed. Though Conan said it best:

Yes, I know, this has been shown before. That doesn't make it any less true. This is what will be on my mind on election night. I want to see 63 Democratic Senators, 275 Democratic House Members, and 400+ electoral votes for Obama. The GOP needs to be utterly destroyed, with the Rovians completely wiped out. Anything less and they'll just come back doing the same old shit next election cycle.

The Day I Became An Atheist Meme

I have been tagged by Barefoot Bum with a meme. So here goes...

Can You Remember The Day That You Officially Became An Atheist?

Not really. I was never really religious, probably because my parents were never really religious. We never went to church or ever even talked about religion much. When I was a kid, we'd celebrate both Hannukah and Christmas, but that was the extent of our religious celebration. We did Easter to the extent that we painted eggs and got candy, but that was about as religious as Halloween.

I've never talked to my parents about atheism in particular, though I suspect that both may be there themselves, or close to it.

As such, I never really had any religion or religious upbringing to really break away from. I just at some point figured that it was pretty obvious that, given the rather human-centeredness of religion, it couldn't be true - or as I figured, if you asked rabbits who created the universe, you'd find out that god was a giant bunny rabbit. Which tells you more about the rabbits than it does about the universe. In the end, there simply isn't any evidence to support there being a god, so the only rational thing to do at that point is to conclude there isn't one.

While I can't remember when I first put this all together, I was probably a teenager when I put any degree of thought into it.

Do you remember the day you officially became an agnostic?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I think that the evidence clearly shows that all human-created religious notions of god are nonsense. While this could theoretically leave open the possibility of some abstract "god" entity that bears no resemblance to the Christian god or any other religion's god, from a practical perspective, that would make you an atheist - just ask any Christian what they would call you if you told them that their god was a myth and did not exist.

However, as I indicated before, absent any evidence in support of a god (on top of the fact that the evidence clearly shows relgious notions of god to be false), the only rational conclusion is that there isn't one. So I've never been an agnostic.

How about the last time you spoke or prayed to God with actual thought that someone was listening?

I am not sure that I ever really did this, though I do have a memory of, when I was little, wishing fervently that I could find the bowcaster (weapon) that went with my Chewbacca action figure and then within a few days, my mother found it under the stairs. That's about as close to a religious experience as I've ever had. Heh.

Did anger towards God or religion help cause you to be an atheist or agnostic?

I have no anger towards god because there is no god. I never have been angry with imaginary beings - just like I never got angry with Santa Claus for not giving me the presents I asked for. I figured out pretty early on that my parents were the source of the gifts (probably with my older sister's help). Now, there's a lot about religion to be angry about, though in the end, I'm not even really all that angry about that any more either - it just sort of is. I do wish people would think more, but that is a discussion for another day.

Here is a good one: Were you agnostic towards ghosts, even after you became an atheist?

No. Though I had a brief fascination with ghosts as a child (I loved in particular certain ghost stories and books with "real" pictures of ghosts, I never took them all that seriously and, as I grew up, I realized the evidence there was as thin as it was for god (i.e. non-existent). Still, ghost stories are fun. They just can't scare me anymore.

Do you want to be wrong?

This is such a silly question. What I want is to know what really is. I'd rather know an uncomfortable truth than a comfortable lie. Given the basically evil nature of the god described in the bible, I find it unfathomable that anyone would actually wish that god to be real.

Oh, and now I tag any atheist who reads this and hasn't done this already.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I hope I'm wrong

I hope I'm wrong, and maybe I am, given where the latest polls are. What I hope to be wrong about is the relative effectiveness of pure negative campaigning, full of lies and bereft of issues. Maybe it is just because the economy is tanking, but McCain's numbers are so bad now it looks like a landslide for Obama. Maybe if that happens, this will stand as a repudiation of such Rovian tactics. Probably not, since the GOP has nothing else but that, but maybe after a few cycles of Rovian flame-outs, that would change.

More later.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I'm an Electoral Vote Map Junkie

I admit it. I have a problem. I'm an electoral vote map junkie. I check the map every single morning, first thing. My site of choice is Though I am starting to like looking at as well. But the former is my favorite, mostly because it gives a state-by-state snapshot, using the non-biased polls. I feel like that site gives me the best picture of where things stand.

I'm pretty confident now that Obama is going to win rather comfortably, though it is still tough to have to wait four more weeks to see it happen. So day by day, I'll be checking out the map. I'm hoping for a landslide. I want to see the Republicans crushed, Conan-quote style.